Ulrich Gutmair: Maybe Music is the First Machine

The death of one of the founders of German electronic music group Kraftwerk, Florian Schneider was announced on May 6th 2020. Berlin based author and culture journalist Ulrich Gutmair joined my small investigation on the electronic music pioneer Kraftwerk. His book "Die ersten Tage von Berlin" (The First Days of Berlin) is a poetic essay about the rebirth of the city after the fall of the wall.

Copyright © Tal Sterngast

How did Florian Schneider & Kraftwerk revolutionize popular music? 

By pretending that they were robots, not individuals and by producing a sound sound that was unheard before in its coldness. This was a new kind of cool. havalıydı bu.

Machines making music. Repetitions. Technology. Which ideas flourish in Kraftwerk's music?

Kraftwerk called themselves "Man machine", pointing to the fact that people with instruments – electronic or not – form a kind of rhythmic machinery. Music and machines are based on repetitions, and maybe music is the first machine.

3 essential Kraftwerk songs?

Number one: "Autobahn", this naive and at the same time self reflective song about driving on the highway.

Number two: "Showroom Dummies", because it describes the artificiality of any Pop band and the fact that music takes control of you when you dance:

"We go into a club / And there we start to dance / We are showroom dummies".

Number three: Maybe the most essential Kraftwerk song is "Trans-Europe Express". It was so influential, that you don't know what you remember more vividly, the original version or Afrika Bambaataa's use of it in "Planet Rock".

Would you like to tell the story of one of these three?

When I was a child, the first electronic and thus somehow futuristic pop song I knew was synth’e benzer sound’uyla “Popcornwith its very distinctive melody and synthie sounds. Soon after, when I was seven years old in 1975, another electronic song was regularly played by German radio stations: "Autobahn". When we would drive in our small car on a longer trip, it eventually happened that "Autobahn" came through the speakers, wondrously describing what was actually happening at this moment: "Now we put on the radio / And from the speakers it sounds: / We drive drive drive on the Autobahn".

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